Yasuni National Park is one of the most biologically diverse spots on Earth. This massive rainforest is located in northern Ecuador as part of the Amazon River Basin. We spent a whole week exploring one of the greenest places on earth!
While Yasuni is less than 1% of the Amazon Basin, it is home to almost one-third of the areas amphibian and reptile species, more than the US and Canada combined! With this dense biodiversity, it will be hard to not witness some majestic plants and animals on your adventure into the jungle of Yasuni National Park.
We recommend spending at least a week to explore the many different areas and Kichwa communities located throughout the park. Also, make sure to pack ample mosquito repellent to protect yourself from unnecessary inching or worse.
There is so much to do in the rainforest, with so many tour options, we wanted to share the five best activities to do in Yasuni National Park. No matter how you chose to explore the area, make sure to check these places out.
1. Hiking the Amarun Nambi trail to Centro de Interpretación Yaku Kausay:
We hiked the beautiful Amarun Nambi trail to Yaku Kausay interpretation center. There is a small museum where they explain the history of the national park, its purposes, its communities and its fauna and flora.
In the museum you will also meet with local women which will give you an introduction to their culture (traditional cooking) and welcome you with China de Coca or Guayusa. Next, there is one cabin with high quality hand carve wood models of the main species you can see in the park. At the end of the museum there is a small handcrafted souvenirs store with proceeds going to help support the community members.
2. Observation Tower Cury Mullo:
To get the best panoramic views of the rainforest, take a short walk from the river to the Cury Mullo Observation Tower. The tower is 50 meters tall, right next to a giant tree which is just as tall. Climb the tower to get views of the treetops and river as far as the eye can see. You also get a closeup view into the neighboring tree.
From the tower we got some amazing views of monkeys hopping between trees and birds search for food. You can also potentially see over 200 different species of birds including the macaw, toucan, hawks and more.
3. Saladero de Loros:
The Saladero de Loros is a small exposed salt lick along the rivers edge. Every mornings you can find hundreds of parrots including two species feeding in this small area. The birds must eat salt to counterbalance all the poisonous fruits they consume throughout the day. It is an interesting experience to see how nature has evolved to ensure the animal’s survival.
Within the national park you are required to stay at least 30 meters away from all wildlife to protect both the animals and yourself. Therefore the boat that takes you to the saladero can not get too close to the cliff. We highly recommend bringing along a pair of binoculars to get a closer view along with a nice telephoto lens to snap some amazing parrot shots.
4. Pink River Dolphins:
Even though it is not technically part of the Yasuni National park it is a must if visiting this part of the rainforest. The dolphins are located 8 hours boat ride away from Coca in the Martinica community conservation land, near Rocafuerte. Once in Rocafuerte you can take a tour directly to see or visit them as part of your stay with the community.
The dolphins are feed a small amount, once per day for the local community to better track and protect these beautiful animals. We had to go to the spot twice before seeing a pink dolphin up close.
5. Big Ceibos and the Pink Boa Tree
Hike along a loop trail to enjoy some of the most unique and missive examples of flora in the park. In the middle of the loop is the largest tree we have ever seen, both in width and height. This is the king of all Ceibos trees, also known as Big Ceibos. The tree is over five meters wide at its base and 50 meters tall. There are even several “rooms” that you can climb into between the large root system.
Also along the trail is the Pink Boa Tree. This average sized tree has a massive pink root that winds its way through the forest floor like a boa snake. Climb along the root for some fun forrest photos.